Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2005-02-08

Hero Worship

Heroes
Jill Sobule, Robin Eaton

Why are all our heroes so imperfect
Why do they always bring me down
Why are all our heroes so imperfect
The statue in the park has lost his crown

William Faulkner drunk and depressed
Dorothy Parker mean, drunk and depressed
And that guy in Seven Years in Tibet turned out to be a nazi
The founding fathers all had slaves, the explorers slaughtered the braves,
The Old Testament God can be so petty

Paul McCartney jealous of John, even more so now that he's gone
Dylan was so mean to Donovan in that movie
Pablo Picasso cruel to his wives
My favorite poets took their own lives
Orson Welles peaked at 25, ballooned before our eyes
and he sold bad wine

This song makes me laugh. Of course we all need mentors and those we look up to - it's an important part of human development.

But it is the desire to believe in the perfection of modern day heroes that can lead to muddied ideas and disappointment. Emulating the strong points of our "heroes" can be synergistic. Surround yourself with greatness - isn't that what we are told? There's a lot of truth in that. Unfortunately, our definition of greatness can sometimes be shallow.

I believe in everyday greatness. I see it in some of my dearest friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. I am fascinated by their individual strengths, weaknesses, preferences, stories. And I am close enough to see them in all their beautiful and assorted flaws.

Part of what makes a hero or mentor truly great is their ability to reach out to others - no matter what level of notoriety of success they achieve. Consistency, humility, compassion - these are the qualities that shine through.

I have several heroes in my life. The ones who have had the most impact are probably the ones who will never see themselves as heroic.
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